Initiative established to preserve film history

Tribeca Film Institute, the non-profit associate of the Tribeca Film Fest, is launching Reframe, an initiative to preserve film history that might otherwise be lost to dusty warehouse shelves, inaccessible video formats or forgotten troves of niche archives.

Reframe’s mission is simple: make classic and hard-to-find content available to a broader community of students, artists, educators and cineastes.

TFI is working with filmmakers, archives and distributors to cull and digitize films to make them available for rent, purchase or download from their website. Films are curated by theme and topic and feature commentary and articles from directors, critics and experts.

As with Amazon or Netflix, users can build a profile that will feature lists of favorites and allow users to rate and discuss films online. Essentially functioning as both library and store, http://www.reframecollection.org will handle digitizing and sales to connect individual artists with wider auds in a curated, one-stop location. TFI has pacted with Amazon’s CreateSpace to bring niche content out into the open.

Reframe converts videos to digital for free and will digitize films at cost – fees associated with conversion typically range from $5,000 to $10,000 – for a reduced rate of approximately $300 dollars. The fee is lower because of bulk transfers and the digitization is a quality transfer that elminates bells and whistles but allows for basic color transfers, audio tests, image sharpening and noise reduction.

Digital copy is then handed over to the filmmaker or rights-holder for free, allowing them to make content available in a nonexclusive arrangement. These files are then offered for sale to the public at a price loosely suggested by the rights-holder. In addition to DVD, consumers can pick up digital downloads to own or rent via Amazon’s Unbox.

“Too many films remain unavailable to the public, even the best researchers and scholars, because they are literally ‘stuck on the shelf’ in analog formats, or in hard to find catalogs,” said Brian Newman, TFI prexy. “Reframe will essentially digitize our visual heritage and give these important works new life.”

Reframe is focused on the community aspect as well. The online hub organizes content from myriad sources of independent and alternative media and relies on users and experts to guide visitors. Site will also benefit from online social networking functions that draw on user recommendations and cataloging to search and define specialized interests.

Curators and bloggers currently signed up include Smithsonian media curator John Hanhardt and Kathy Brew curator and former co-director of the Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival among others.

Filmmaker Sally Potter (“Orlando”) put her entire oeuvre on Reframe.

“For years I have been looking for ways of making my films, especially the very early ones, some of which have never been distributed, available to anyone, anywhere who wants to see them,” said Potter.

Within the first year, plans are to make at least 10,000 titles available, including public television films and videos, docs, independent features, shorts, foreign films and vanguard cinema. As content proliferates, Reframe will maintain the ongoing database.

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